Russia Launches Belgorod Nuclear Submarine to carry Poseidon Underwater Drones

IndraStra Global

Russia Launches Belgorod Nuclear Submarine to carry Poseidon Underwater Drones

By IndraStra Global News Team


Image Attribute: Russia’s unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) Poseidon
© Russian Defense Ministry/TASS.

On April 23, 2019, Russia has launched a special-purpose, nuclear-powered submarine Belgorod (Project 09852) which will carry six nuclear-armed Poseidon unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV).  It is a revised project of Antey 949A nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines (SSGNs) — similar to the Kursk, an Oscar-class nuclear-powered submarine.

The launch ceremony was held at at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk. The proceedings were watched by Russian President Vladimir Putin via video link from the Severnaya Shipyard in St. Petersburg. Journalists were not allowed to photograph or film the launch as the submarine's operational characteristics have been classified.


Image Attribute: Russia’s unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) Poseidon
© Russian Defense Ministry/TASS.

State-run TASS news agency said development work on the Belgorod will continue and that tests will begin next year with a goal of deploying the vessel by the end of 2020 or early 2021. Russian media reports say the Belgorod will carry deep-water rescue vehicles and autonomous underwater drones.

Construction of the submarine started in 1992 but was delayed several times due to financing issues. It measures 184 meters long, the longest submarine ever built and will be capable of carrying six underwater drones. According to Russian state media, the UUV is part of Russia's state armament programme for 2018-27, and it is expected to enter service before 2027.


Image Attribute: Russia’s unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) Poseidon
© Russian Defense Ministry/TASS.

In November 2015, a state television channel briefly showed a document with drawings and details of Poseidon, referred to previously as Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6 or 'Kanyon' (built by Rubin Design Bureau). According to the document shown on Russian television, the drone has a range of 6,200 miles, a top speed in excess of 56 knots and can descend to depths of 3,280 feet below sea level. The document said the purpose of the drone was to "strike important enemy economic facilities in coastal areas" and create "zones of extensive radioactive contamination that are unfit for military, economic, or other activity for a long period of time." The Kremlin quickly dismissed the report as a mistake, although analysts speculated the reveal was deliberate.

Image Attribute: A screenshot of the ‘Poseidon’ system, taken from Russian media footage shown back in 2015. /Source: Russian state media

Image Attribute: A screenshot of the ‘Poseidon’ system (referred to previously as 'Status-6' or 'Kanyon'), taken from Russian media footage shown back in 2015. /Source: Russian state media

In his annual state-of-the-nation address on March 1, 2018, Putin discussed a number of new weapons undergoing testing and development, including a nuclear-capable undersea drone. Using colorful graphics and video, Putin said the high-speed drone could target both aircraft carriers and coastal facilities with nuclear weapons. Putin claimed that the UUV had rendered NATO's missile defenses "useless" as it would be impossible to intercept. The drone was later named Poseidon.


Image Attribute: Russian President Vladimir Putin's State-of-the-Nation speech, March 1, 2018

According to Russian state media, the 24 m long Poseidon is able to deliver a 2 MT nuclear strike at intercontinental range. It is designed to navigate autonomously with a maximum speed of 107 kt (198.16 kph/ 123.13 mph) and detonate at enemy's littoral waters, generating a tsunami wave. It can be also equipped with conventional munitions to strike aircraft carrier groups, coastal fortifications, and infrastructure.


In his most recent state-of-the-nation address on February 20, 2019, Putin announced that the first submarine equipped to carry the Poseidon would be floated out before summer. TASS reported that Moscow plans to eventually deploy more than 30 underwater nuclear-capable drones carried on four submarines.
  
With reporting by Interfax, The Moscow Times, Pravda, RIA Novosti, RFE/RL, and TASS